In 1946, half the members of the North Sydney Bears quit and agreed to play with the newly formed Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
Legend has it a mass brawl broke out at Tunks Park between former teammates. Love them or loathe them, the way the Sea Eagles entered the world of rugby league left many non-fans with a bitter, “licked the ashtray the night before” taste in their mouths.
Maybe I only speak on behalf of Bears fans, or Western Suburbs fans or Parramatta fans or South Sydney fans or other clubs who have had their gun players poached by the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. They are a club that was hell bent on success regardless of it’s reputation.
In the year 2016, which is the club’s 70th birthday (if you conveniently disregard the Northern Eagles years), allegations of match fixing has the potential to seriously damage the club’s future.
Multiple court hearings could proceed but again it’s early days to predict what lays in store. As a fan of abusing the line ‘remember the good old days…’ I would love nothing more than to see Greg Florimo and his loyal band of Bearlievers take to the streets, call a rally at Tunks Park and get the Big Black Bears back on the road again.
Super League was the catalyst that killed off the Bears while their mortal rivals where seen as more sustainable due to their superior on-field success.
Greg Florimo, was born and bred to bleed for the Bears, with pasty pale skin that would over exaggerate the smallest black bruise, along with this trademark red locks.
In 1997 I witnessed a great moment when the over excited Flo called the crowd onto Bear Park after belting Manly 41-8, the biggest win recorded over their much despised rivals.
Flo would have remembered many a dark day in the traditional North Shore derbies and couldn’t hide his elation. One memorable try was scored after Flo decided to put in an overhead bomb while facing his own try line.
The Manly side was coached that day by Bob Fulton, another favourite of North Sydney diehards. If any man deserves reward for persistence, it’s the man they called ‘Flo’.
Odds are Manly will most likely survive this current, potentially explosive crisis. But whenever a sniff or slight window of opportunity arrives, Greg Florimo and has band of men need to strike when the iron is hot, an iron which is currently hotter than the contents of Mt Vesuvius!
Some of us have heard legend of what a great, shrewd administrator Ken Arthurson was at Manly.
The days when brown paper bags, new cars, cheap as chips housing and other promises had an audit trail on par with a Greek bank.
I have no proof or take too much from rumours of what went on back in the halcyon days of Manly Warringah FC. I just know I won’t shed a tear or have an ounce of sympathy if they fail to front for season 201
I’d happily switch on The Footy Show to hear the reaction of the smug Queenslander Paul Vautin, if the day of reckoning eventuates. That alone would warm the cockles of this old rugby league tragic.